In February of this year (2021) after an aggressive marketing campaign, Walther released their new series of striker-fired pistols dubbed the Performance Duty Pistol or PDP. The striker-fired pistol market has become increasingly competitive in recent years, especially in the aftermath of the Army Service Pistol contract that ended up going to the SIG Sauer P320. While SIG won the contract, it was the average consumer that really won out on that competition when every major pistol producer put out their version of the striker-fired duty pistol in the commercial market. It is hard to really batter any of these offerings and the market has turned toward a direction without a singular leader to an environment where purchase decisions are being driven by personal preference over semantic details. With all this market congestion (and admittedly great pistols nearly across the board), Walther seems to have come a bit late to the game with this release. It could be argued that they missed the boat, but with a field this congested, they also have plenty of critique to draw from. So, did Walther make something here that separates it from the pack? Let’s take a look.
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The Walther PDP comes in five variants, all with the same price tag of $649 dollars, placing it firmly in the middle of the price market with its competitors. Here are the 5 variants offered, all chambered in 9mm:
- PDP Compact 4” – Capacity 15
- PDP Full Size 4” – Capacity 18
- PDP Full Size 4.5” – Capacity 18
- PDP Compact 5” – Capacity 15
- PDP Full Size 5” – Capacity 18
This review was conducted with the PDP Compact 5”. This is a clean pistol with function placed first, something I tend to appreciate, especially in a firearm genuinely intended for a duty/defense. In keeping with the marketing campaign, components of the pistol all have names developed by the marketing department brain trust.
Let us begin with the slide serrations (SubTerrain Serrations). These serrations are very easy to get purchase on, front or rear and I genuinely like them. In the cons arena, the slide is a bit wider than some competing models, but not anything to take serious grievance with and I think the improved ease of use outweighs the size difference.
The trigger (PDT or Performance Duty Trigger) is excellent out of the box, with a 4.5lb pull that feels lighter than you would expect from a stock pistol; smooth take-up to the wall and a crisp break. Trigger reset is a tad spongy, but again, nothing grievous.
Every version of this pistol is optics ready and the optics cut is probably the deepest in the market. The benefit to this is that depending on the optic, an operator can use standard height sights. Walther specifically calls out the optics ready functionality on this pistol and it appears they put a lot of thought into it. I did not shoot this pistol with an optic.
In keeping with Walther tradition, the ergonomics on this pistol are stellar and I think they really hit their stride in two areas. The grip texture (Performance Duty Texture) is one of the best on the market that allows for great purchase without the feeling of grabbing a small cactus. Walther also placed a little shelf by the mag release. This is ostensible to prevent the operator from bumping it accidentally, but it also happens to increase comfort and applies pressure evenly on your middle finger when gripping the pistol firmly. The slide release is in an easily accessible location and is pretty long compared to its peers, but not obstructive, meaning you can get a great purchase on it and easily operate without accidentally holding it down with your offhand palm.
For more information on the features mentioned above, see the WALTHER PDP LANDING PAGE
- I didn’t get the opportunity to review this pistol with a holster, but Walther got ahead of the game and has worked with 10s of manufacturers that are making holsters for this gun, so acquiring the right holster for you should not be a burden. Kudos to Walther for getting ahead of that. WALTHER PDP HOLSTER PAGE
- The Picatinny accessory rail works just as intended, which is just fine.
- If you want to mount a red dot you have to order an adapter plate from Walther, but they will send you one for free, so you just have to wait for it.
- The box is pretty damn nice. It comes with your standard accouterment and is adorned with their trademark grip texture. I have seen some folks complain about the size, but c’mon guys, it’s a box and it looks like they actually tried (looking at you, Glock).
- Comes with two mags, a speed loader, and three grip backstrap options
I put approximately 500 rounds of various types through the pistol without a single failure. Accuracy was excellent and muzzle flip was minimal. 500 is not a massive sample size, but you can hop on YouTube and find a number of videos of guys beating the sin out of this gun and it still runs, so I think it is safe to say that this is a reliable pistol.
- I am not a huge fan of the factory sights. There isn’t anything wrong with them, they are adjustable and that is great, I just would’ve preferred something with a brighter front sight and tritium tubes for a duty/defense pistol. That being said, Walther had the foresight to cut this slide for Glock sights, so you have no shortage of options.
- This is really splitting hairs, but instead of stamping their name on the side of the frame before the accessory rail, they should’ve just filled that section with more of that Performance Duty Texture.
During the course of this review, I shot the PDP side-by-side for comparison with the VP9, Glock 17 Gen 5, SIG P320, FN509, CZ P10F and a Grey Ghost Precision Gen 3 with compensator. The PDP outcompeted the peer pistols in most, if not all, categories. Additionally, my Grey Ghost is a $1500+ gun and while it didn’t outcompete it, it was not far off from matching it and I can say with certainty that the marginally better performance I got out of the GG is not worth 8-900 dollars (nothing against Grey Ghost, they make incredible guns).
If you breakdown the pistol, it is very similar to a Gen 3 Glock (what isn’t these days?), but Walther took most, if not all the austere characteristics from the industry’s favorite and unquestionably reliable “go to” duty pistol and ironed those creases right on out. Stating this is likely to send up some hackles, but the Walther PDP is arguably the best gun of its category and price point on the market at the moment. But hey, that’s just like, my opinion, man.
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